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ASTI members vote for industrial action on Kovid issues

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While the government did not immediately address a number of key issues related to the Kovid in schools, secondary school teachers who are members of the ASTI trade union voted in favor of industrial action until the strike.

On a ballot that raised a number of questions, ASTI teachers voted in favor of the action on a number of issues.

They include seeking redefinition of those in close contact in the classroom; Kovid test turnaround time 24 hours; Serial inspection for schools; Providing laptops to students and teachers; Provision for teaching high-risk health care teachers from home or accommodation at school; Equal pay for teachers working after 2010.

Members rejected possible proposals for industrial action for a number of other reasons.

These include the requirement to maintain a physical distance of two meters in each classroom; Providing high quality high quality masks to all students and teachers; And guaranteed offers of permanent full-time contracts for any teacher returning to the system.

In another ballot, a reinterpretation of the vote that took place when schools were abruptly closed in March, ASTI members voted in favor of industrial action, including a strike to pursue pay parity.

The ballot stipulated that such action be taken with at least one teachers’ union.

ASTI President Ann Pigot said members were clearly stating that schools should be open for students.

They demanded that the government go ahead and provide teachers with a 24-hour test turnaround, redefine close contacts for school settings, a comprehensive testing program and high risk. “

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ASTI members also voted that some schools would not take unilateral decisions to implement changes in working conditions without consulting with teaching staff.

“Teachers are unwavering in their commitment to providing quality education and to helping students in these stressful and uncertain times,” said Ms Pigot.

“However, ASTI does not oppose exploitative attempts to introduce unnecessary job changes without a consensus that would have a more negative impact on teachers’ work and workload.”

Commenting on the special ballot on equal pay, she said ASTI members are fully committed to ensuring equal pay for teachers who have entered the profession since 2010.

Industrial activity ‘a last resort’

The ASTI general secretary said industrial action would be the last resort.

Speaking on RTE’s drivetime, Kieran Christie said there would be “no knee-jerk reaction” and that their executive would meet in the next two days to consider all aspects of the matter.

He said the union had given assurances following discussions with the education department and the NPEET that the authorities were working on their requests, including reactivation of the school teams and prompt response from the contact tracing teams. These issues should be addressed by Monday.

He said union members were compelled to conduct serial inspections in schools and tests would be conducted quickly and results would be returned within 24 hours. “The sustainability of keeping schools open helps a lot in efficiency in such matters,” he said.

He said the education department and the government could not say that their priority was to keep schools open and that it was not a resource. “What we need is a system that is dynamic and able to respond properly whenever an outbreak occurs.”

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